Aspiring young entrepreneurs associated with the Skills Village project in central Johannesburg are now one step closer to being their own boss, after emerging telecoms operator BitCo provided them with the ICT tools necessary to kick-start their dreams. 
After being introduced to the Skills Village grassroots entrepreneurial concept by the Foundation for Internet Development (FID), BitCo seized the opportunity to translate its commitment to hands on enterprise development into tangible action that benefits an entire community.
This commitment saw BitCo handing over a fully-fledged ICT Development Centre bristling with state-of-the-art hardware such as an IP PBX system with two VoIP phones to be used as call boxes with four VoIP channels, a wireless Internet connection (1Mbps uncapped) with one year’s bandwidth, as well as a printer and consumables.
In addition, the BitCo wireless links and outgoing VoIP calls are guaranteed to have 99% uptime. The PBX comes with 24/7, 365 on-site and remote support whenever Skills Village requires it. BitCo’s support for inner-city enterprise development also includes a generous financial contribution.
Skills Village provides small black-owned businesses the opportunity to provide a range of services relating to event management. The ICT Development Centre now provides these businesses with access to the Internet for research, business communication and collaboration.
FID co-ordinated BitCo’s donation of VOIP telephony and other ICT hardware in line with its stated goal of consolidating the Internet industry’s efforts to promote broad-based black economic empowerment. UniForum SA, the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), the Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) and the Internet Society of South Africa are founding members of FID.
Speaking at the recent launch of the BitCo ICT Development Centre at Skills Village in Frere Street, downtown Jo’burg, FID MD Octavia Kumalo says: “Community-based entrepreneurship, as espoused by the Skills Village philosophy, is a key driver of economic development and poverty reduction.
“This corporate social investment initiative by BitCo is to be welcomed as a vehicle that will enable young people to be the architects of their own entrepreneurial success.”
Kumalo’s message is underscored by the fact that South African young people have been found to be severely lagging behind their Southern African peers, according to the 2012 Global Report on Entrepreneurship.
“We believe in developing sustained relationships with role players such as Skills Village and BitCo who share our commitment to properly considered Enterprise Development,” she adds.
According to Garth van Sittert, MD of BitCo: “As a tier-one telecommunications provider, we are in the business of helping organisations to use communications technology to drive competitive advantage.
“We try to apply the same mindset when it comes to helping enterprises to meet their developmental goals. We are particularly pleased to be collaborating with the Foundation for Internet Development on this worthy project with has all the hallmarks of effective Enterprise Development,” he says.
“Skills Village stands for precisely what the sustainable development of entrepreneurs’ means. We will continue to help ensure the sustainability of this project which has enabled BitCo to make a meaningful contribution towards the worthy goal of enterprise development,” adds Deirdré Jonker, marketing manager at BitCo.